Highlights:

  • Americans need to rest after a difficult mental activity to regather energies.
  • Europeans were more prone to do further tasks after difficult mental activities.
  • Differences in perception of willpower. 

What is your understanding of willpower? By definition, we learn from Cambridge University online Dictionary that willpower is the capacity to control your thoughts and the way in which you behave. I am pretty sure we all have a slightly different but yes closely related meaning for it. We just may interpret it with our other words.

The study and its procedure.

A study paper, supported also from the Swiss National Science Foundation, by the name “Assessing the Implicit Theory of Willpower for Strenuous Mental Activities Scale: Multigroup, Across-Gender, and Cross-Cultural Measurement Invariance and Convergent and Divergent Validity” has been conducted from C. Napolitano and V. Job and was published on researchgate.net, trying to discuss and find possible conclusions according to willpower.

The study selected participants from the United States, Germany and Switzerland. There were 775 Swiss and 870 Germans meanwhile there was around 1100 adult Americans. These participants were presented with the sentence: After a strenuous mental activity, you feel energized for further challenging activities; or similar sentences of the same nature. They had to mark their compliance with these statements, from 1 (disagree) to 6 (agree).

Findings.

From the study, it was observed that European participants tended to be more agreeable with sentences like the above-mentioned. Meanwhile, surprisingly or not, Americans agreed more on sentences which affirmed that after strenuous mental activity they needed to rest in order to regather their energies.

The difference is clearly noticeable. The researchers say that the difference here is that those people who see their willpower as an infinite source will get energized if confronted one after another task. On the other hand, those who think their willpower source is limited will act the same after performing one or two tasks and they will think that they need to rest, no matter if they really do.

Participant’s results from the above-mentioned inquiry were correlated with other information from questions related to their opinion about intelligence, self-control, life satisfaction etc. The correlation demonstrated no variance between men and women but it showed some slight variances in both American and European samples. The study may also have a little error scale which may have been as a result of a mistranslation of the word “energized” into German and Swiss. The lead author, C. Napolitano suggests that in order to have a strong willpower one have to believe that it will not run out of it.

He was expressed that:

Your feelings about your willpower affect the way you behave – but these feelings are changeable.

Changing your beliefs about the nature of your self-control can have positive effects on development, leading to healthier behaviors and perceptions of others.